Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ayers Rock, Alice Springs, King's Canyon


Craig was on his KTM640 adventure from Tasmania.

Sego and David from France.

Monica and Rene from Germany!

It wasn’t easy for Hope Too staying on the Stuart Highway. After we left the touristy Coober Pedy, riding the 491km towards Northern Territory, we want to reach as close as possible to Ayers Rock. In the end, we settled 249km away from it.

I was told by a local friend that we have to pay a$25 each to enter the Ayers Rock. The trick of telling the toll officer at the Ayers Rock that we are transiting to the west does not work anymore.

Ayers rock was impressive. We watched the sunset at the ‘car park’ meanwhile met some other adventure bikers. Monica and Rene from Germany, Craig from Tasmania of Australia and David and his wife from France.

Monica and Rene just started their bike trip where they had shipped their bike from Germany to Australia. Craig was a prison officer in Tasmania, David and his wife, Segolene had a very interesting job. They had been working on a private boat and had been sailing around the world for 3 years. This private boat was owned by a German boss. David was an engineer in the boat and his wife was a stewardess. Thus the boat landed in Australia and both of them rented a BMW GS1200 and rode around. check http://www.sycelandine.com/

The Ayers Rock, known as the Uluru, was a sacred place for the aborigine tribes here. They treated the Uluru as something important in their religion and those who climb onto the top of the rock are the men of the tribe that were on a special ceremony. So they do not like non tribal man that is not doing the special ceremony to climb the rock.


The government has taken over the lease of the land of Uluru from the aborigine. They had developed this place as a touristic site and had built a climbing way for tourist to climb.

We respected the aborigines. We did not climb the rock.

We could now ride around the rock as road was built around it. Some faces of the rock remained sacred to the aborigine and there were signboard warning not to take pictures of it on certain places.

We respected it.

There was a free cultural exhibition of the aborigine of this area. One of the interesting facts that we learned was there were many people sending letters back to the parks. Their letter was all about them taking a piece of rock from the region and felt guilty, some had bad misfortune and had terrible disease on them. Was it a bad omen to bring back the rock from Uluru or it was really a curse? Try it!

On the last posting, we mentioned that we met a lot of friendly people after we left Swan Hill. I noticed something in common. Those that had come up to talk to us were old Aussie couple on their caravan holiday around. They were travelers too.

We traveled with Monica and Rene for 3 nights. On the second day, we met at Curtin Springs, which provide expensive fuel (a$1.95 per liter, in other parts of Australia, on average was a$1.20), restaurant, powered caravan camping for a$25 per site, unpowered site for free, as like some public place. The moment we went into the unpowered site and setting up the tent, an old couple came up to us and said

‘Oh, you guys must be tired after this entire ride and it is so late now (half hour to sunset). Have you had your meal? Do you have something to cook?’

Before I can answer anything, she pushed the instant cooker, the big type to us.

‘Here, you can have it. Just return to us after you had finish using it. We are staying over there’

How nice! How nice! They just want to help other travelers.

After the sun set, Rene and Monica joined us and the same old couple came with a big lamp, offering Rene and Monica.

How nice! How nice!

Upon returning the cooker and the lamp, I tried to have more conversation with the old couple but they seemed busy. We didn’t even know their name. They have no other intentions but just want to give and help others.

How nice! How nice!

After washing up, the 4 of us sat down under the bright stars, with the companion of guitar and songs from the caravan nearby, envying the other caravan groups enjoying their camp fire. It was a cold night. I went around and saw a dead tree. It was completely dead. (Trust my profession) The thickest part of the trunk was about 4 inches in diameter and it was leaning 45 degrees towards our tent. If there was a sudden gust of big wind that blew in the correct direction, we could be wakening up by the fallen tree on our tent.

I threw a rope and shake the dead tree. Within a few moves it broke. The 4 of us were happy because the tree will not fall on us and we had firewood now.

After Rene set up the fire (about half hour after I shake the dead tree), a fat woman walked very harshly towards our camp fire with her touch light, screaming at us:


I stood up among the four, went to her, standing 1 meter away from her in the dark with her touch light burning into my eyes and said: It’s me.

She continued her screaming:


I wasn’t able to understand her well because she was screaming and cursing all the bad words. I said:

I’m sorry that I had pulled some twigs off your dead tree but look, it was from this dead tree.

She screamed:


The message just didn’t come into my mind but I guess someone went to her and maybe said that we are ‘cutting down her tree’. That’s why she was so angry and couldn’t listen to what I want to say.

She continued:

SAME TO THE 3 OF YOU THERE, DICK HEADS! (She was referring to Samantha, Rene and Monica).

She walked away.

There was a sudden silence in the camp ground. No more guitar and songs, not so cold anymore because I was being pointed at something. We didn’t finish the firewood we gathered.


We were in a far away place. If she threw us out, we have no where to stay. In her point of view, we are destroying her property.

Bad luck enough, I saw the other dead stumps that were left, and we were not the only ones that took the twigs.
The twigs we collected and the stones were builted by the previous campers for fireplace.

The next morning, I was attacked by an emu. The emu was roaming around the campground. Everyone was taking photo of the emu and the emu walked towards Samantha. The more Samantha retreated, the more the emu got aggressive. I stepped in, distracted the emu’s attention to me. I retreated quickly and I could hear the emu being on high alert. I was kicked by the emu once and the emu wanted more. Then I stood calm, the emu stretched its neck and big beak onto me (I had my helmets on), screeched and observed me. I could notice other caravan owners taking out their big camera and was shooting at me. The emu then walked to Samantha and Monica (sitting on her bike). I slowly walked to Hope Too and Samantha got on. Rene started his bike and went off. We saw the emu chasing Rene.

After riding together for half hour, we stopped at a rest station and a lady from a caravan came to talk to us, trying to find out more about the emu attack incident. She told us that she had reported to the owner of Curtin Springs, trying to get some help for us and the reply from the owner was:

Oh, the emu was being disturbed by bikers, so……

WTF?! Do we deserve it?!

We rode together to Kings Creek Station. Our intention was to camp there and went for a hike together but it was too expensive for us to camp there. Rene decided to have lunch at the station. It was indicated on the road sign 400m before that Kings Creek Station is a place for fuel, camping and picnic. We sat at the tables, Sam and I had our sandwich and Rene and Monica took out their gas stove and cooked their lunch.

Rene came back from the reception and complaint that he would never stay in this campsite because they only give water to those that were staying with them, yet, they have water on their sprinklers watering their grass in the desert!

Just about Rene and Monica was about to start their meal, the owner walked past our bench and started cursing at us.


I tried to talk to the owner more but it doesn’t work. Rene and Monica just had a few spoon of their lunch and had to keep everything at once.

We were very disappointed with the local’s attitude, especially Kings Creek Station. The owner was too much. It was a big desert and travelers would come to the station to seek for shelter and help yet, they look at money first in front of everything. They weren’t using proper language too. Humiliated and angry, we came out to a decision to camp at another expensive site 20km away.

I reckon these people had not gone out from their property for half a century. They only see people coming to them and they felt needed.

Khama… they will have Khama.

At the ‘expensive’ campground,we had our farewell to Rene and Monica and we rode separate ways on the next day to Alice Springs. We paid a$5.50 to the aborigine to use their dirt road for a short cut to Alice Springs. It was called the Mereenie Loop, about 220km of hard corrugation and sudden attack of soft sand road. Some parts of the road were good dirt and we could happily cruise at 80km/hr but we often have to stop every half hour to readjust our bags and tape up the equipments that were shaken off. Some parts of the road reminded me of Argentina.

Alice Springs was an admin stop for us. We changed our front tire at Desert Edge Motorcycles. I had pre ordered a tire with them. When I went in, a young bloke was in this big shop. I told him that I had ordered a tire with Stephen and his reply was Stephen wasn’t around, with a big full stop after his sentence. I looked around and saw the tire lying there and asked him for the price and his reply was:

I don’t know.

He continued his computer duties at this big shop.

Desert Edge Motorcycles was a large building and served Harley Davidson motorcycles and some Honda. You could imagine how it was like, like the Harley Davidson showroom of Singapore.

I tried to ask him to sell me that tire what ever the price was on the shop and he gave me a price.

I also wanted a piece of chain guard because it was lost when I took the corrugated road.

I asked him: do you have any chain guard for sale?

He replied: what?

Me: chain guard.

He: what’s that?

Me: Chain. C-H-A-I-N guard: G-U-A-R-D.

And I ask him to look at one of his displayed motorcycle and pointed at it for him. Then he replied:

ohoh… what bike do you have?

I invited him to look at Hope Too just outside his building and his first word from his mouth was:

your chinnn was fucked.

I asked: what did you just said?

He: your chainn was fucked.

I replied: sorry, what did you say?

He repied: your chain was FUCKED!

why would he use such word to me? I just want to buy something off from him and show him my bike model.

anyway, I ignore his word.

He doesn’t seems interested in selling me anything. He kept saying his mechanic was busy and don’t know if they have the time to look at Hope Too.

I looked at the showroom. there were a lot of off road racers’ picture that thank Desert Edge Motorcycles’ sponsorships. I chose to forgive this young guy being ignorant.

It made me reminded of an old man that was staying in a camp ground that we ‘met’. There was a common kitchen that every camper could use. We stitched on the TV to a news channel and watch it while we ate our rice and beans. Then this old man came with his dog and went to the TV and switched channels. He was switching to all the channels and deciding which channel to stick to. Not being satisfied with what he wanted to watch, he walked away leaving the TV in some cartoon channel. Then I stood up and change it back to our news channel.

The he came, do the switching thing again. He was not watching the TV. The he spoke to another Australian couple in the camp kitchen:

‘Do you know why these Asians are wearing glasses? Look at them’

He was pointing at us and continued,

‘It was because these Asians are eating TOO MUCH RICE!’

Sam and I was shocked about what he just commented. I cool myself down and asked him in a humble way,

‘Yes, we are eating rice but would you advice me what to eat as a basic food to make our eyes better?’

The old man answered:

‘POTATOES! Potatoes will make your eyes good. You see we are not wearing glasses, like you Japanese, Chinese and Koreans, all wear glasses!’

I tried to explain to him that because our ancestor was from China and the soil condition in China does not suit potato growth. We only can grow rice. That’s why we are eating rice.

He replied:

‘But you can IMPORT the POTATOES!’

I shut my mouth and continued my food.

Now I wanted to tell you another story in Victoria. Another guy was a barman working in a small hotel selling beer and alcohol. I went in and look at his shelf and ask if he have any XXXX beer. (XXXX beer was the beer we drunk with Steve Smith when we stayed with him in Queensland.)

His straight answer was:

‘We don’t have that Queensland SHIT here!’

I didn’t buy anything from him. He could have said something than shit.

All these that happened were overcome by the visit to the legendary Kienny and Geoff Kingsmill in Alice Springs. We met them in Ushuaia, Argentina 24th December 2008.

Trying to calm myself and the emu by not moving.

If you click this picture and open in another window, please zoom in to see me trying to dug myself away from the Emu that had just kicked me. The claws were sharp and could be deadly. I heard emu uses their sharp claws to cut their enemie's stomach when they fight. Not to mention their beak.

You can see Samantha's shadow taking picture and the Emu walking towards her.

There was a hugh number of wild camels in Australia.

we were just at the bottom of the Ayers rock. On the right hand side of the picture you may see a handrail built for people to climb. We didn't climb the rock.

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